Seattle Queer Film Festival 2021: Short Films Picks

Seattle Queer Film Festival 2021

Hosted by Three Dollar Bill Cinema and running from October 14-24, 2021, the Seattle Queer Film Festival goes hybrid in its 26th year. All screenings are held in-person at various venues across Seattle and virtually via Elevent, celebrating a curated selection of world class queer cinema.
Below are 18 standout short film picks from this year’s festival, with exceptional ones noted by an asterisk (*).

Aimee Victoria

Aimee Victoria

Chrystee Pharris; 2021; USA; 11 min.; in English and American Sign Language with English subtitles
(“10 Ways to Survive in an Epidemic” + “Black & Queer in America” Short Film Programs)

When COVID-19 disrupts a one-year relationship anniversary between a deaf couple, the two have to get creative about how they communicate… and celebrate. Along the way, love radiates through the expressive beauty of sign language.


Between Us

Cailleah Scott-Grimes; 2020; Canada; 17 min.; in Japanese with English subtitles
(“Transcending Boundaries” Short Film Program)

When a transgender man and his foreign nonbinary partner must navigate the tensions of living queer in rural Japan, Between Us uses the gender separations of a mountaintop hotspring to illustrate an impasse in their relationship.


Broken Relationship

Broken Relationship

Wrik Mead; 2020; Canada; 4 min.
(“Ultraviolet” Short Film Program)

Gay porn gets the data mosh treatment in Broken Relationship, as melting pixels blend faces into naked body parts, all over.


Disconnected the Musical

Disconnected: The Musical *

Dickie Hearts; 2021; USA; 20 min.; in English and American Sign Language with English subtitles
(“10 Ways to Survive in an Epidemic” Short Film Program)

Not quite a typical “musical,” Disconnected: The Musical uses clever editing to turn a series of video chats and fake dating apps into a deaf man’s records of his pandemic dating wiles. Unlike anything else you’re likely to see.



Dreamer *

Stephanie Osuna-Hernandez; 2021; USA; 9 min.; in English and Spanish with English subtitles
(“10 Ways to Survive in an Epidemic” Short Film Program)

In Dreamer, a queer Latinx vlogger gains the attention of internet fans through creative makeup tutorials and other playful antics — until homophobic realities force the vlogs to get disturbingly real.


Escaping the Fragile Planet (Apódrasi apó ton éfthrafsto planíti)

Thanasis Tsimpinis; 2020; Greece; 17 min.; in Greek with English subtitles
(“Chance Encounters” Short Film Program)

As horrifying as the end of the world can be, Escaping the Fragile Planet (Apódrasi apó ton éfthrafsto planíti) shows that with the right company, one can tolerate anything. A narrative short with lush, eye-catching production design.


How to Have Sex in a Pandemic

How to Have Sex in a Pandemic: Episode 1

Michael Leibenluft; 2021; USA; 9 min.
(“10 Ways to Survive in an Epidemic” Short Film Program)

“Making out with someone is riskier than sucking a dick right now,” says an anonymous mouth which speaks through a glory hole. In the humorous yet poignant first episode of the webseries, How to Have Sex in an Epidemic, gay men reflect on the AIDS crisis while highlighting the trend of glory holes as a means of having safe sex during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Into Light

Into Light *

Sheona McDonald; 2020; Canada; 19 min.
(“All in the Family” Short Film Program)

With grace and acceptance, a mother who moves far north into the Canadian tundra learns to embrace her child’s transition. Into Light candidly and poetically celebrates their little moments together, offering insight into the learning curve many parents of transgender children face.


Little Sky

Little Sky (小天)

Jess X. Snow; 2021; USA; 14 min.; in English and Chinese with English subtitles
(“Transcending Boundaries” Short Film Program)

Set in New York City, Little Sky (小天) is a heartfelt tale of a queer Chinese-American pop singer who uses music to liberate themselves from the traumas of blood family.


Lilac Lips Dutchess Country

Lilac Lips, Dutchess County

Tristan Scott-Behrends; 2021; USA; 4 min.
(“Ultraviolet” Short Film Program)

Sexual fantasies get weird quick in Lilac Lips, Dutchess County; after all, the same actor plays every single character in the film.


Luv U Cuz

Eric Pumphrey, 2020; USA; 15 min.
(“Saturgay Morning Cartoons” Short Film Program)

Set in the not-too-distant future, attraction gets complicated in Luv U Cuz, the animated story of two relatives navigating relationships as one another’s wingpeople.


Masisi Wouj

Masisi Wouj

Zé Kielwagen, Marcos Serafim & Steevens Simeon; 2021; Haiti; 22 min.; in Haitian Creole with English subtitles
(“Ultraviolet” Short Film Program)

A musical journey through the streets of Haiti and a colorful portrayal of the gay dancer and multidisciplinary artist Sanba Yonel, Masasi Wouj is a multi-faceted experimental documentary. Over its 22-minute run, it explores how gay (masisi) culture is accepted by the Vodou religion while paying homage to the religion’s gods and goddesses.


Marks on My Skin

Marks on My Skin (Las marcas de mi piel) *

Cristián Arredondo; 2021; Chile; 7 min.; in Spanish, with English subtitles
(“Ultraviolet” Short Film Program)

Marks on My Skin is a visceral recounting of the potential brutality of sex work, narrated in Spanish and manifest through performance art by transgender artist Canela InBenjamin.


One Meal

Out of the Darkness

Sarah Klein & Tom Mason; 2021; USA; 4 min.
(“Black & Queer in America” Short Film Program Block)

Mental health and suicide ideation take center stage Out of the Dark: AKeem, a mixture of spoken word and animation which shares how a Black queer artist finds his way out of the darkness.


Reasons to Stay

Reasons to Stay

Shaina Rose Woolley & Ezra Li; 2021; USA; 5 min.
(“10 Ways to Survive in an Epidemic” Short Film Program)

When everything in the world might feel like doom and destruction, Reasons to Stay is a playful look at how a hot angel can make any life worth living.


She Whitles

She Whistles (Kwêskosîw)

Thirza Cuthand; 2021; Canada; 12 min.
(“Scream Queens” Short Film Program)

The plight of missing and murdered Indigenous women begins to play out in She Whistles, when one woman finds herself trapped in the cab of a bigot. Luckily, the ancestors come calling.


Sheer Qorma *

Faraz Arif Ansari; 2021; India; 30 min.; in English, Hindi, and Urdu with English subtitles
(“All in the Family” Short Film Program Block)

After many years of fearfully avoiding their mother, a queer Muslim returns to India with their partner, in search of acceptance about their relationship. Sheer Korma is a beautiful tale of learning to love one another and using the language of food to convey feelings when words may fall short.



Unboxing *

Ash Verwiel; 2021; The Netherlands/USA; 9 min.; in Dutch and English with English subtitles
(“Ultraviolet” Short Film Program)

In the bilingual, self-narrated film, Unboxing, a Dutch immigrant reexamines his old belongings and relives the disassociation felt throughout his former life as a girl. Experiments with word associations and textural effects powerfully further the message.


Three Dollar Bill Cinema Festival Trailer

View the full festival program at


Written by
Vee Hua 華婷婷

Vee Hua 華婷婷 (they/them) is a writer, filmmaker, and organizer with semi-nomadic tendencies. Much of their work unifies their metaphysical interests with their belief that art can positively transform the self and society. They are the Editor-in-Chief of REDEFINE, Interim Managing Editor of South Seattle Emerald, and Co-Chair of the Seattle Arts Commission. They also previously served as the Executive Director of the interdisciplinary community hub, Northwest Film Forum, where they played a key role in making the space more welcoming and accessible for diverse audiences.

Vee has two narrative short films. Searching Skies (2017) touches on Syrian refugee resettlement in the United States; with it, they helped co-organize The Seventh Art Stand, a national film and civil rights discussion series against Islamophobia. Reckless Spirits (2022) is a metaphysical, multi-lingual POC buddy comedy for a bleak new era, in anticipation of a feature-length project.

Vee is passionate about cultural space, the environment, and finding ways to covertly and overtly disrupt oppressive structures. They also regularly share observational human stories through their storytelling newsletter, RAMBLIN’ WITH VEE!, and are pursuing a Master’s in Tribal Resource and Environmental Stewardship under the Native American Studies Department at the University of Minnesota.

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